Americans have “allowed themselves to be manipulated into believing they’re enemies,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson says, offering his explanation for the sharp divide exposed in last month’s violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I think a lot of the Americans that get caught up in this are decent people but they’ve allowed themselves to be manipulated into believing that they’re enemies and that they should hate each other, and that they should try to destroy each other, and this is exactly the wrong thing,” Carson told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
Carson, a rival of President Donald Trump‘s during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries who backed the businessman after dropping out, said he’s encouraged by Trump’s recent efforts to bridge the partisan divide with outreach to Democrats.
“I’m glad to see the president reaching out to the other side,” Carson told ABC News’ Rick Klein and Katherine Faulders. “Because the fact of the matter is: we’re all in the same boat and if part of the boat sinks, the rest of us are going down, too.
“We need to start thinking more about the things that benefit all of us and get away from this partisanship,” he added.
Trump sided last week with Democratic congressional leadership on a three-month plan to raise the debt limit, fund the government and provide hurricane relief, against the wishes of some Republicans, including members of his administration. Wednesday night, Trump will dine tonight with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to discuss protections for undocumented immigrants formerly covered by the DACA policy and efforts to stabilize health insurance markets.
Carson compared the outreach to the response he saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. While his department is making mortgage and rehabilitation insurance available to those affected and providing loans for the rebuilding of infrastructure, he also pointed out that those affected areas came to each other’s assistance without thought of their potentially conflicting political beliefs.
“Everybody was helping each other. They weren’t asking them whether they were Democrats or Republicans,” the retired neurosurgeon said. “Maybe the leaders [in Washington, D.C.] could take an example from the people themselves.”
In August, Carson faced what he called a “symptom” of that partisanship when his appearance — and introduction as…